Despite Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) attempts to cut down on scale fails by experimenting with different weigh-in times, missing weight is still a big issue in mixed martial arts (MMA).
But that hasn't stopped the promotion from handing out championship fights to combatants who missed weight in the fight prior.
Something that doesn't sit too well with current UFC Middlewight champion, Robert Whittaker.
“It’s like me going down to bantamweight, not making weight, winning because I’m much bigger and then getting a title shot,” said Whittaker during a recent media gathering (via MMA Fighting) to promote the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, which he will coach opposite Kelvin Gastelum.
“It’s not fair. It’s not fair. Because on the flip side, the guys that are making weight don’t make it easy. It wasn’t easy to cut weight and make weight and do the job. We still had to struggle, we still had to diet weeks out. We’re just more professional at it. We just did it right.”
Whittaker -- who has never missed weight -- knows this topic all-too well, as Yoel Romero missed weight for their scheduled title fight a few months ago at UFC 225. As a result, the fight nearly didn't happen, as "The Reaper" threatened to bow out on the chance Romero came in heavy.
Thankfully, Whittaker agreed to still compete, though the fight was turned into a non-title affair.
“The people who do make weight are also in a hard position,” Whittaker said. “Because they’re in a position where they still need to make money to pay the bills, to earn a wage, to do their job. But they also have the support of hundreds of thousands of people who have come to see them fight or that are watching them on TV to watch a fight. The fans. That’s kind of why you fight — they drive the sport," he added.
“When you ask a guy, ‘Are you gonna take a fight if your opponent doesn’t make weight?’ Is it really asking? Does he really have a choice? When you back them into a corner like that, is there really a choice to be made? You have to look at the whole process behind it.”
To make matters worse for Robert, Yoel was awarded the second title fight against him despite missing weight in his prior fight against Luke Rockhold, which he won via knockout.
To hear the champion tell it, punishments -- which only involve a monetary fine at the moment -- aren't severe enough to scare fighters straight.
"It’s a very funny topic, missing weight and getting title shots,” Whittaker said. “I think the punishments should be more severe, but I don’t know."
Whittaker's next title defense will be against Kelvin Gastelum, a fighter who has missed weight on several occassions.